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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

With alot of attention being given lately to the Dead during Mr Harts "hiatus", an interesting idea popped into my head. How were the Dead hurt by his absence, and on the other hand, how were they helped, if at all? For me it comes down to precision vs. power. All you have to do is listen to some of the absolutely gorgeous Playin's or Darkstars from 74 to hear just how technically stunning the boys could be. For me, it seems like if the car is being driven by only one person, it is capable of much sharper turns and precise, lightning fast movements. But then you put in a monster like the Eyes from Colgate 77 to hear just how powerful the engine could be with the added horsepower supplied by Senor Hart. Bill embodies the technical prowess of the great jazz drummers of old, leading the boys along a path of intricate beauty; while Mickey posseses a raw, explosive power along with a sense of primal rythym that can just decimate an audience. Either way you go, you can't lose.

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Poster: robthewordsmith Date: Nov 29, 2007 9:34am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

Here are a couple of passages from Mickey Hart's book Drumming at the Edge of Magic. I think it's pretty apparent from reading this that Billy K. was considered to be the strong and steady beating heart of the band. It just wouldn't have worked without his hand on the helm - I think Mickey himself would agree that a Hart-only drum section would have been inconceivable.


"Kreutzmann… wasn’t noisy; he had been blessed with an ability to find the beat and lock on to it; he was naturally smooth and in time, which made him irreplaceable. He was the center pole that allowed the rest of us to go roaming off the edges. But it wouldn’t have worked if Kretuzmann hadn’t been comfortable and energised by the noise we collectively made."

"An immediate problem for Kreutzmann and me was keeping up with the increasingly noisy guitarists. Adding the second drum set was like waving a red flag at their amp lust… Billy and I would be hyperventilating like crazy while below and in front of us, stolling languidly around, occasionally drifting over to their amps to crank them even higher, were the guitar heroes."

"Kreutzmann and I worked hard at synchronizing our drumming. Sometimes we’d play for hours with our arms around each other, Billy handling one drumstick, me the other… We’d play for hours; I taught Billy what I knew of the rudiments and he taught me how to rock.

I had heard of course of the phenomenon of rhythmic entrainment that rock and jazz musicians call ‘the groove’. I had even fleetingly experienced it, but Billy taught me to trust in it, to let it draw me in like a tractor beam."

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 29, 2007 9:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

Thanks for this. A great video companion to this passage is from the 1987 PPV show. At midnight the bust into one of the best Hell In A Bucket's I've heard. As Bobby is screeching the crane camera is hovering over the drummers and they are banging away like you wouldn't believe, in sync and and pounding the skins trying to keep up. By the time they are wrapping up NFA to end the set Billy is so drenched in sweat you just want to ring the guy out.

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Poster: blacklakelight Date: Nov 29, 2007 10:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart


Anyone ever see the Butthole Surfers, back in the day? Talk about two sweaty drummers pounding it out in sync! Very different style (they drummed mechanistically,in perfect sync)but quite a show.

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:06am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

never heard of them. I will have to do some research on that group. For some reason I just like the 2 drummer concept.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

yep. for a period of time, they lived right outside athens, ga (not sure if they were recording in athens at time) and saw some shows there (Athens/Atl) and up in NC. This was years before they broke "big" with electric larryland (and after being on first (?) lollapalooza - with early afternoon set, just like NIN)

anyway, this gives some a sense:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJY8VWoA7lA&feature=related

now, go find some king crimson thrak era material with dual percussionists....

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

crimson - thrak era percussion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2-S91Sqwug

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Poster: blacklakelight Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

(Big Ed Mcmahon voice)YES! Correct, sir!

I think they lived in Winder. What I always heard was that they were asked-- told-- in no uncertain terms, to leave Winder and don't never come back.

I was in Athens for a couple of years, '88 and '89. Saw the B-holes and Jane's Addiction at the Uptown that year. Also Fugazi at the 40 Watt. I was over in SC, Columbia, when the first Lollapalooza came around. Didn't go; heard Gibby came out blasting a shotgun. Remember how strange it seemed, a big festival with bands like that? To folks I knew anyway. Remember BBQ Killers? Holy God Almighty. Crazy times.

Thanks for the links. King Crimson is one of those bands I think I might like if I heard the right records. I never liked it when things got too prog' ; then again, I never thought I'd be so into jazz.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

I went to Roswell High; I drove Tim Nielsen of drivin n cryin (previously of the Nightporters) to Music Midtown to buy his first bass in high school (and later did a little stint as part of the Kathleen Turner Overdrive army helping shop them; Ray Dafrico (lead singer) has a new band,Shaghai Gesture [http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=47895376] Ray was in Snatches of Pink for awhile and a multitude of other bands. A mutual good buddy of all, Will Rogers, had "punk
band, St. Vitus Dance, and then Willbuddies (which I lamely managed for a bit); Will was good friends with Gibby during that era. Georgia - it's a wicked mix brew in the land of kudzu..... Spent a lot a lot of time at 688 (RIP), Agora (RIP), Star Bar, 40 Watt, etc over the years. Glad to see you enjoy dead and that world - more of us than you might think. As Jer said, "it's all american music"

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Poster: blacklakelight Date: Nov 29, 2007 12:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

Lassiter High, class of '88. First show when I moved to Atlanta was Black Flag and DC3, the early all-ager at 688. Yeah, I was real into hardcore, catching the bus from Roswell down to little five to shop for records, going to shows at the metroplex whenever I got the chance. Man, it's changed (oh, and yeah, I've run into some of the biggest punks I knew in the lot, most pleasantly one friend from highschool who went white-power on us, all dreaded out and all those stupid tattoos done over or removed. People often change for the better!)

Atlanta shows in the early nineties here were the bomb, that's right, I said "the bomb." Will and the Willbuddies were fantastic, you should be proud. "Wouldn't get drunk, if I could be somebody. . . ."
I've had some great, albeit very f-ed up, conversations with that dude. Steve Earle stories, heh. Introduced to him by an old buddy, Rick Stowe, guitarist out of Rock Hill, managed the Mellow Mushroom I worked at.

Hey, I gotta split, but I'll check your page later (afore some wag suggests we get a room).

Peace from hate city!

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 29, 2007 12:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

"Smell your boss" - Will always says that and put his fist under my nose. Chris Griffin, the short guitarist in Willbuddies, is a recording engineer/sound guy in Atl and went to Roswell w/ me and Tim; Ray went to Milton (same as Pete Buck - the older, cooler guy that started some band while working at a record store in Athens b/c he and the lead singer bonded over their mutual admiration of patti smith). Yep, lots of crazy times in atl - lived with tim in va highlands in 92 and spent many a night passed out at will. ah, wasted youth....

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 29, 2007 9:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Kreutzmann and Hart

OK, that's enough pertinent and valuable commentary out of you. Geesh, how much longer are we supposed to put up with this never ending stream of well thought out and researched drivel?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:51pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

That was an interesting point about Keith turning into a rhythm-only player due to the 2-drummer influence....perhaps he could only shine when the space was open and the groove loose? Hadn't thought of that before. I'd just assumed he was getting bored.

The main hurt of the Mickey-free Dead was the drum solos.....I'm not a drum-solo fan, so all those Billy solos in '71 don't rock me too much. But with the two of them, the Drums section gets more interesting from decade to decade....
(Although, I wish they hadn't felt obliged to do drums>space at every show, it was just so rigid.)
I also wish they hadn't felt the need to have 2 drummers on every song, they could've traded some instead of giving everything such a heavy beat....

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Poster: He Live's Date: Nov 29, 2007 1:59pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

ecxactly, "heavy beat", maybe that was keith's problem in that regard (if there was one, a problem i mean) ....with the two drummers, there wasn't much room, the beat was sort of leaden and didnt offer a lot of ready openings if your name wasn't jerry.

ON ANOTHER NOTE: this thread started off OK, so-so as it were, but why doesnt anyone put up some links to examples of what they like and what not?....these things usually deteriorate into personal back and forth


[...]keith up front, 78 fire

[...]electric keith, 1976


This post was modified by Diana Hamilton on 2007-11-29 21:59:36

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Poster: gilamonster58 Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I, too, am a fan of both. The upside of two drummers is obviously the added thunder and the two-headed beast added a new dimension to the live shows in terms of sheer entertainment. The down side was that they settled into the Drums>Space structure, which in some ways was limiting and self-indulgent, more often than not. I don't know if you happened to catch Billy on Sirius yesterday but I got the impression that he enjoyed sharing the duties with Mickey more than the '73-'74 period. I loved this quote in particular (I'm paraphrasing): "If you tripped and fell during Drums>Space, you could still make great music crashing into all the stuff we had on stage".

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I agree with your power vs. finesse argument. With one drum they are a fine bottle of Bordeaux while with two a California Cab. I like both but sometimes more in the mood for one vs. the other.

Hurt, well I think the 2/24/74 show you are listening to is a great example of who was hurt by Mickey's return: Keith. Clearly more at home with the open jazzy feel in 73 and 74. Really starts to blend in and get lost after the break. Probably can't completely blame Mickey for that, but the sound changed and Keith didn't really adjust or fit. Probably why fall of 79 is so great because Brent could fit in with the two drums just fine.

While i tend to skip them more often than not, when I listen to Drums it is almost always from the 2 drummer period, post break. Mickey really added to this imo, because of his love for percussion that was not simply drums. They made some pretty cool sounds in the 90s this way.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:52am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

Good point on the Keith Fade Out. Now that I look at it, I think you're on to something there. Keith never had the raw power needed to keep up with the new sound that developed when Mickey returned, but Brent was more than up to the task, both vocally and with the Hammond B3.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Nov 29, 2007 2:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

i love the post hiatus sound. i think they really re-invented themselves. in theory they "only" added mickey back in. but along with mickey came a new conception for the band. they went after a more PLOTTED, yet GRAND gesture.

instead of the rambling, blues, roots and jazz quintet -- they came back as a MARQUEE ACT -- while before the break they worked as SHAMANS, opening the doors of perception for all to experience, looking earnestly at every turn in the music for the unknown pathways to the cosmic -- the post break sextet became pilots of THE GRATEFUL DEAD STARSHIP -- jerry and bobby are your tourguides, commanding the perfomance like KIRK FROM THE BRIDGE, pointing to new worlds, but often passing from a distance....

IMHO, billy kreutzmann's star shone brightest before the break....his RIDE CYMBAL alone propelled the group through some of the deepest, white-hot freely improvised jams the group ever played. i started listening to A LOT OF 1970-71 about a year ago and was blown away by the drums. i never realized how GREAT BK was!

after the break the drums became the engine of the big starship....but like the engine of a crown vic (vs. a porsche)...the POWER WAS FELT but NOT EXPERIENCED

[...]"billy k"


This post was modified by Diana Hamilton on 2007-11-29 22:00:20

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Poster: Earl B. Powell Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:54am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I think even the band members would probably not all agree on their favorite line up. Garcia appeared to be meticulous about selecting drummers that were tighter than a metronome. Phil, on the other hand would naturally get off on the bombastic nature of having a two drummer lineup.

In the day, there were always comparisons drawn between these guys and the Allman Brothers drummers, and I'd have to give the edge to Jaimoe & Butch as better timekeepers. Bottom line is that Mickey was better suited to be a percussionist rather than a trap kit player. His thing was always about adding color rather than being the engine. The other part of the equation is that Phil played with more of an ear to the melody than most bass players, which requires a dead-on drummer to carry the rhythm section.

For those that are defensive about Mickey's abilities, think of reversing the roles where he would have been the only drummer...how would have that worked out?

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Poster: patkelley Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I think Mickey could have held his own by himself, and kept a metronome-like beat if he had to, but he didnt have to. He is a trained rudimental drummer who played in military bands etc. He's rooted in the fundamentals of drumming, not just the craziness of all things rhythm.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I have asked this question several times in reference to a single show.

On 12/26/69 the boys were playing at SMU and Bill's flight was delayed. They got on stage and basically Jerry and Bobby said they could not start until Billy arrived and they then proceeded to play an impromptu acoustic set (2nd ever). Billy arrives and plays UJB acoustic with them and then they take a break before the electric set. I have asked but never receive a response to why they could not play an electric set without Billy.

While off the subject, I think the acoustic set is pretty cool. The one time only Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet is a must listen. Clearly the boys had too much egg nog the day before so they are a bit off in the electric set. Pigpen can be heard after a sloppy H2H, saying something to the effect of we gotta get it together.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd69-12-26.sbd.murphy.1821.sbeok.shnf

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

Excellent points and an even better question. What WOULD have it been like at Mickey been alone at the wheel. Don't think Jerry would have gone for it. But perhaps the freewheeling, devil-may-care Donna would have been pleased.

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Poster: Robony Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

With just Billy the band could turn on a dime. That is porbably one of the biggest reasons that 72 could become interstellar and explains the tight jazz of 73-74.

For my ears, two drummers make for too "busy" a sound. Every up and down beat seem to be filled. Sometimes what is not played is as important as what is.

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I'm a fan of several different eras but at the end of the day, it always comes back to '72-'74 for me. The Golden Age, baby. I can appreciate the bombast and flavoring that Mickey brought to other periods, especially the 'big dynamo' sound of '77 and the first half of '78, but something about the way they negotiated those high speed turns with the Billy-only lineup just can't be beat.

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Poster: blacklakelight Date: Nov 29, 2007 8:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

I like both, but as others have said, sometimes it depends on my mood. I've been onto a lot of '79 and '80 lately ('73-'74 have been my favorites for years), and totally agree about Brent's spectacular fit with the rhythm of the band. Listening to 11-30-80 is what did it, a randomly picked show that just happened to be from my city. They play like they have something to prove, every song is rejuvenated. This is the Dead I first turned on with, "For the Faithful" and "Dead Set" were my first records(after "Skeletons from the Closet").

Any recommendations from this period are much appreciated! Really all the way up to '85, I've heard some fantastic stuff from those "dark years."

My final answer: I like Mickey's thunder, but I'm happy for those Billy-only years ("Power vs. Precision" states it nicely). I really consider him one of the best drummers, of any genre, ever. Twenty-two years of listening (how? how has it been that long?) and he continues to astonish.

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Poster: patkelley Date: Nov 29, 2007 7:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

Phil talks about this period in his book. I get the feeling that he thinks the GD were a little tighter and had a certain "turn on a dime" quality that he really loved. But, in saying that he gives credit to the full double-drummer beast that could pass itself off as some type of orchestra if it wanted to. Personally, I like it much much better with two drummers, particularly when listening to a good recording that has Bill coming out of the left speakers and Mickey out of the right. It's a much fuller sound, plus I think you need two drummers to back up the four monsters making the notes.

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Poster: swamprabbit Date: Nov 29, 2007 9:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

You can argue about the difference in sound between the one and two drummer Dead. But one thing is certain - two drummers sure was a lot of fun to WATCH! It always looked like they were dancing in perfect unison. Always interesting to see two talented individuals with an almost telepathic connection. Drums was actually one of my favorite parts of the show - but I will be the first to admit that it usually doesn't translate well to tape - aside from some of those wild 84 and 85 drum sessions (see 7/13/84 or 6/30/85).

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 29, 2007 11:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pros and Cons of the Mickey-Free Dead

All great stuff; not much to add!

Good read.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Nov 29, 2007 12:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Over 4 Hours and still On-Topic

Very impressive people. Well done.

Oh, yeah, so as not to disrupt the string:

Billy = DaVinci
Mickey = Picasso and/or Dali

Beauty and the Beast

This post was modified by SomeDarkHollow on 2007-11-29 20:16:48

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 29, 2007 12:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Over 3.5 Hours and still On-Topic

I have a question - Mickey was there, then left, then came back. While gone, was there ever any thought as to another drummer/percussionist to join Billy or was it just assumed they'd go with just Billy? Just curious if anyone knows.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Nov 29, 2007 1:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Over 4 Hours and still On-Topic

I thought if you experience a discussion for over 4 hrs you are supposed to immediately seek medical assistance.

nice work.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 29, 2007 3:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Over 4 Hours and still On-Topic

Hey guys--time to add this now, as I was in a hurry before. I have listened to a number of early shows in which the two of them, to be frank, are not completely in sinc, and depending on the mix, it comes thru clearly (ie, each in one channel). I hope I do not offend anyone, but this always held me back in discussions of the "greatness" of the DEAD. Those of you that have heard me before know that I hold up the likes of Ginger Baker (singlehandedly, he could have overpowered any and all guitarists, trust me--re, Mickey's comments) as THE rock drummer, and the boys for us were good, but I don't think I would put them up there with Jerry and Phil in terms of expertise, technical abilities, etc.

Nonetheless, for such a positive post, I will stop now before I derail this with negativity...again, don't think for a minute that I didn't and don't appreciate what Billy and Mickey did, just that I always viewed it as the lesser of the great contributions the boys provided us with.

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 29, 2007 3:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Over 4 Hours and still On-Topic

it is cool tho, having 2 (count 'em, two) drummers.

Cyril Jordan (Flamin' Groovies, now Magic Christian... see youtube) always thot that was one of the best things about the Dead (and Allman Bros) shows.

Now, Cyril is talking about doing some gigs with 2 drummers - Clem Burke (Blondie) and Prairie Prince (Tubes, Starship).

Wouldn't that be something!
But not in a small club... I said to C, yeah, maybe play at The Avalon (it's reopened in the City on Van Ness) or a ballroom sized-venue.

I remember being at a '70 Fillmore West (Carousel Ballroom) GD show, standing near the stage front, and Mickey emerged from the crowd to my right, climbed up on stage and took his seat.

Tell me you haven't heard some of those bone-chilling cymbol sizzles he did going as far back as 1969 on numbers like Morning Dew.

Attachment: MerryChristmas.gif

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 29, 2007 4:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Over 4 Hours and still On-Topic

Oh yeah--what the two of them were capable of, especially with Dew, warrants the both of them as life time icons for the members of any rock appreciation club.

Good call.